South Africa: Answer Lies in Domestic Tourism

As South Africa faced pressure in some global markets, more needed to be done to promote domestic tourism, Tourism Minister Marthinus Van Schalkwyk said today.

“Let us apply our minds to creative and innovative ways to get South Africans to travel; expose them to our amazing offerings, and build a generation of tourists that will carry us into the next decade,” he said during a meeting with CEOs in the tourism industry in Tshwane.

“This investment in a value-conscious domestic tourism market should not be about short-term cash flows, but about creating an upstream reservoir for future growth. It should be about building the next generation of tourists that will help ensure long-term financial sustainability for our sector,” he said.

Government was committed to building a culture of domestic tourism as a mainstay of sustainability. With domestic tourism contributing over 70% of the country’s tourism volume, Van Schalkwyk added that the domestic market has to be one of the country’s key focus areas.

Research shows that even though global tourist arrival growth saw a return to positive territory, with year-on-year growth of some 7% in 2010, the sources and nature of growth have shifted.

Travellers have changed their travelling behaviour, they are travelling for shorter periods, and many are trading down.

“In our traditional markets, many consumers prefer to travel closer to home, and long-haul destinations have to work harder than ever to convince tourists that they offer value for money,” said Van Schalkwyk.

From the government’s side, there was “clear understanding of our responsibilities” in terms of promotion, and SA Tourism was doing a “sterling job”.

The minister added that SA Tourism followed a rigorous process in identifying and prioritising its target markets, adding that the industry needed to ensure that the price and product remain competitive – and compatible with agreed positioning.

“In this respect, I must also commend the industry. Our tourism success story of the past decade is your success story,” added Van Schalkwyk.

September marks Tourism Month in South Africa.